Burnley : News

Depher founder: “I was born in Liverpool, but Burnley has made me.”

You may have heard of Depher after the Burnley business went viral on social media and attracted huge donations from the famous actor Hugh Grant. 

Depher – which stands for Disability and Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Repair – was founded by James Anderson (no, not the cricketer!) in 2017 after a phone call changed his career and life forever. 

Speaking to Burnley.co.uk, James said he was running his business, the Northern Plumbing and Heating Company, when he received a phone call from a bed-bound elderly gentleman who lived near Turf Moor and who wanted a second opinion on a boiler quote. 

“The story is shocking. This vulnerable man had been quoted £5,500 by an engineer from Doncaster for a boiler he didn’t need. Even worse, the engineer had simply tried to stop the leak by placing a gas engineer’s trade magazine into the tank. I knew that only engineers got those magazines and they had a code on which I was able to trace back to his company. I called them and threatened to go to the media with the story if they didn’t rectify the situation. It was all sorted the next day and the engineer was fired,” James told us. 

However, it made him think that there must be thousands of other vulnerable people at risk of the same thing happening. Depher was born and James went without a salary for 13 months in order to invest all of his profits back into doing free work for the community’s most vulnerable residents. 

James Anderson, founder of Depher

The amazing work of Burnley Bondholder Depher was put in the spotlight when James went to the home of a 91-year-old lady in Padiham who was receiving end-of-life care for leukaemia. Her boiler was leaking and James refused to invoice her for the work and promised to provide 24/7 emergency care for free for as long as she required to ensure she was comfortable. Her daughter put the photo of the invoice on social media and the story went viral. 

“That’s how we came to the attention of Hugh Grant. He made an original donation of £10,000, then £5,000, then when I wished him and his family a Merry Christmas and good health this Christmas just gone, Hugh very kindly replied with a £10,000 donation. I couldn’t believe it,” James explained. 

Depher is in the process of becoming a charity from a CIC to help with finances, but the pandemic was a troubling time for them. The combination of an increase in demand for their services plus a reduction in donations meant their money in the bank went from £137,000 to £23,000 and they didn’t know how much longer they could continue. Thankfully, social media awareness has seen donations increase again and Depher now do so much more than solely heating repairs. 

They provide food bank shops from Tesco, top up electricity meters, ensure vulnerable children have a birthday present and cake – the list goes on. James is also on a mission to seek out rogue traders and ensure they are reported. 

“Burnley has made me” 

James insists he couldn’t have done it without the people of Burnley. Speaking to him, he clearly has a Liverpudlian accent, so we asked him how he ended up living in Burnley. 

“I used to work for Calico and transitioned from living in Liverpool. I was amazed at how rural and beautiful it is, coming from a concrete city. I fell in love with the place. After two rocky relationships I met my amazing wife, who is my sun, moon and stars. We sadly lost our son as a baby and the people of Burnley pulled me through. I was born in Liverpool but made in Burnley. Thank you Burnley, you’ve done me proud.” 

I think you’ll agree it’s James who has done our borough proud and Liverpool’s loss is most certainly our gain. 

So, how can people provide support to Depher? 

  • Depher still provides plumbing and heating services to all, so if you’re able to pay for their services and need work carrying out, any profit will be re-invested into the good work they do in our community; 
  • Make a donation, either by contacting them here or via their GoFundMe page;  
  • Share this article far and wide to get the word out! 

James also urged people to report rogue traders to him and to check on vulnerable neighbours. 

“Do you usually see someone at the corner shop the same time each day but you’ve not seen them for a day or two? Knock on, make sure they’re ok,” he urged.  

It was an absolute pleasure talking to James and we wish him and his team all of the best with their incredible work.